Women experience a wide range of different symptoms – their bodies undergo various changes already from the beginning!
The most common symptoms in this phase of pregnancy are:
- nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting)
- frequent (or more often) urination
- food aversion
- breast swelling & tenderness
- mood swings (getting emotional “out of a sudden”)
The two most common and intense symptoms are nausea and fatigue. Nausea, called often a “morning sickness” can actually happen at any time of the day, provoked sometimes by “wrong” smell or other situation. Most of women experience it stronger in the morning time indeed.
Vomiting doesn’t need to be an alarm unless it occurs often (4 or more times a day) or consists the blood. When the sugar level in the blood is low (as with an empty stomach) nausea can be stronger or more probable.
Ayurveda recommends ginger, Western medicine – eating 4-6 small meals a day to keep always a small amount of food in the stomach and maintain sugar level. Some women recommend to eat crackers or dry cereals in early morning, before getting up from their beds (or even in the night if necessary). We should also avoid spices, strong aromas and flavors1 during first trimester to minimize nausea. To deal with nausea some women crave potatoes, rice, bread, etc. But again – every woman is different, and no book or specialist can predict all the reactions during first trimester of pregnancy. While most of women feel quite fast that something has changed (not to mention the delay of their menstruation), the other don’t notice the first moments of pregnancy at all!
Fatigue is a normal sensation during pregnancy – due to physical and emotional demands that being pregnant places on the body. Some women just cannot survive without the nap, at least once a day, or feel constantly tired, no matter how long they slept in the night.
Regular exercises – paradoxically – can help a lot, and make pregnant women less tired and “heavy”. A healthy balanced diet is most recommended, so you can advise your students to visit a nutritionist or a good midwife. The most important however is to take a proper rest and sleep, but most of the women in the contemporary societies work quite hard, and even hide their pregnancy in their working places. Gentle and restorative prenatal yoga class can give them this on hour of rest, breathing and proper relaxation. After a while the energy level comes back to the “normal”, the body adjusts to the new situation, and the feeling of fatigue is going away:-)
First trimester can bring a range of emotions – from excitement, happiness to frustration, shock and aggression. The exhaustion and nausea make it a bit challenging, and emotional aspect of this new situation eats up the energy as well. Many women finds this part of the pregnancy “unreal” and abstract, as they don’t feel connection to their baby, “cannot believe” it is really happening, and don’t feel many symptoms for a while. Once they see first USG and get familiar with the new situation it is easier for them to “feel it” and accept it as “real”.
Many women are afraid of miscarriage, therefore they prefer to hide the fact that they are pregnant. At the end of the first trimester they start sharing with their friends, employers, etc. and preparing for further stages. The first trimester is the most “risky” time for a pregnancy – the most of miscarriages happen during this phase. Miscarriage is a natural process in the Nature, natural “regulatory” function, but it is a big emotional and fragile issue for every woman, and what is more – we don’t have good methods to deal with it in Western culture, so it often traumatizes many women and forces them to hide pregnancy at first.
Pregnancy is measured in trimesters from the first day of your last menstrual period, totaling 40 weeks. The first trimester of pregnancy is week 1 (“0”) through week 12, or about 3 months. The second trimester is week 13 to week 28. And the third trimester of pregnancy spans from week 29 to the birth (40).
The first trimester can be a real challenge, I found this beautiful and inspiring words of sharing by one Yoga Teacher from the experience of first months of her pregnancy: “As in planting, the seed is far under the soil right now. No sunlight needed yet, just water and time. Sometimes we feel that everything is happening so deep within us. I remember this as a twilight zone. I wasn’t me anymore, and I wasn’t my future as a mother yet. I was in an between land, waiting for the hidden seed to pop out of darkness into the light”. The time and safe environment is the best what we can offer for this phase of pregnancy. Allowing our students to be confused, sad, angry, or afraid, and accepting them as they are, offering them witnessing their emotion (mindful meditation, etc.) can bring a lot of release and power to get actual acceptance for their situation by themselves. Perhaps opening the space for their feelings, and helping them to deal with it openly (for example using Yogic techniques) is the most missing part in the social frame.
Feeling bad does not have to be the way a woman spends her pregnancy – just like feeling bad all the time in our life is unnecessary! True, some women suffer and go through more than others. Maybe a diet needs to be adjusted, or maybe one needs to move in a way that will stimulate her body’s own healing energy, or just talk to someone… There are ways through almost everything in pregnancy, so that one can flow and grow!